Highlands and Islands of Scotland route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6395  
Length: 10 days
Arrive: Inverness, Scotland
Depart: Inverness, Scotland
Lodging: 9 nights hotels and historic inns
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 9 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 3-7 hours a day, van support (for luggage or tired feet)
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Highlights

  • Hike along mysterious Loch Ness, in the beautiful nature reserve of Glen Affric, and historic Glencoe
  • Discover the cultures and mystical landscapes of the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye
  • Gaelic legends, heather-covered hills, dramatic seascapes, and dramatic mountains, including the incredible rock pinnacles of the Quiraing
  • Visit the prehistoric Callanish Standing Stones, away from the crowds
  • Accommodations include two magnificent country estates
  • Taste whiskies, meet a traditional weaver, hear tales from a local storyteller


This was my 5th Wilderness Travel trip and it rates #1! VERY engaging itinerary and the best group leader team I've experienced. I hope that future Wilderness Travel clients can have as satisfying an experience and as much fun as I did.Lew G.—Mercer Island, WA

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Northwest Scotland, a sensational meeting of mountain and sea, is a land of mist-shrouded crags, heathered moorlands, brooding castles, and rich folklore and legends. On our exclusive journey you’ll discover its stunning beauty the best possible way—with hikes on age-old trails rising above silver lochans (small lakes), across mountain-ringed glens, and on island paths amid the wild seascapes of the Outer Hebrides. Breathtaking Skye, the fjord-like inlets of the “far Cuillins,” historic Glencoe, and the splendid sandy beaches of Harris, with its famous weavers, are all on this fantastic journey. Along the way, you’ll drop by a pub or two for a wee dram of whisky, sample freshly-caught scallops and salmon, and discover the proud Gaelic heritage and warm welcome of the Scots.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Loch Ness / Glen Affric

On our hike along Loch Ness, keep an eye out for “Nessie,” then head to the top of Craigmonie Crag for fine views across the lake. Glen Affric is arguably Scotland’s most beautiful glen, with its shimmering lochs and ancient Caledonian pinewoods, and you’ll follow trails around the peak of Am Meallan, with an optional hike to its summit.

Days 3-5
Outer Hebrides / Harris and Lewis / Callanish Standing Stones

In the Outer Hebrides, a hike on the Isle of Lewis brings you along rugged coastal cliffs to an Iron Age fortress, then takes in the magical setting of the Callanish Standing Stones, a remote megalithic site bathed in legend. On the adjoining Isle of Harris, our hikes lead up the “wee” peak of Toe Head (1,198'), with its fantastic 360-degree summit view, and along one of Harris’s historic “coffin roads,” dating back to medieval times. Later, visit a Harris Tweed weaver to learn about the production of this famous fabric.

Days 6-7
Isle of Skye / Quiraing / Cuillins

On the storied Isle of Skye, hike among the mysterious rock spires of the Quiraing and to a tiny loch in the heart of the brooding Black Cuillins, among the most spectacular peaks in all Britain. At a traditional distillery, try a taste of the sweet, full-bodied single malt whisky made on this renowned island.

Days 8-10
Glencoe

In the secret glacial valley of historic Glencoe, site of the battles of the Campbell and MacDonald clans, enjoy a choice of fantastic hiking options in this famously wild setting of moors, woodlands, and steep U-shaped valleys. Depart on Day 10 via Inverness.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 3+, Moderate to Strenuous. We hike from 3 to 5 hours on most days (with one longer day in Glen Affric) over rolling hills with some steep sections. Distances are not long, but trip members should be in good shape and have good hiking boots. While many of the hikes follow recognized trails, these are not “groomed” trails so they can feel quite rugged, often with muddy sections and loose rocks (but no scrambling required). As is common in Scotland, we may even hike off-trail where the terrain allows. Many hikers prefer to use trekking poles on the less-groomed sections. Most hikes feature an elevation gain of between 750-1,500 feet, so a reasonable level of fitness will make the experience more enjoyable. Most of our vehicle transfers to and from trailheads and between destinations are less than an hour. There are longer transfers on Day 5, when we explore West Lewis (up to 90 minutes), on Day 8 when we travel from Skye to Glencoe (3 hours), and on Day 10 when we transfer back to Inverness (2 hours).  Driving and hiking times are noted, but these can vary, sometimes dramatically, from the anticipated times. Road conditions and the group’s level of fitness also affect the travel and hiking times.

A Weather Note: Scottish weather has a fickle reputation and it’s certainly possible to encounter rain and quite strong winds when hiking, even in summer. However, the weather changes quickly, making “sunshine and showers” a common forecast. These climatic conditions give the mountains great atmosphere and can add to the overall experience. They do, however, mean that you need to bring good raingear, including a fully waterproof jacket and waterproof overpants. Note that waterproof ponchos are NOT recommended for hiking in Scotland, as the wind makes them less efficient.

Explanation of Trip Levels

WT Trip Leader Skye McDonald is coming home to Scotland to lead our new hiking adventure! Check out this video post Skye sent as she scouted the trails and a lovely Georgian-era home that will be our accommodation in Glen Coe—but remember, her scout took place in the wintry days of December. We’ll be there in the long days of summer! Enjoy this peek, and join Skye to hike with us in Scotland!

 

Departures & Leaders

2015
Sep 7-16, 2015  Skye McDonald
2016
May 9-18, 2016  Skye McDonald
Jun 13-22, 2016  Skye McDonald
Jul 11-20, 2016  Skye McDonald
Sep 5-14, 2016  Skye McDonald

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$6395 (11-14 members)
$6695 (5-10 members)
Single supplement: $670
Forced single supplement: $470
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Cairngorms National Park and Edinburgh Extension
   from: TBA

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included except 2 dinners
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Airport transfer on Day 10
  • Land transportation as noted, including ferry travel
  • Entrance fees to several museums, castles, distilleries, and historic sites as per the itinerary

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, arrival airport transfer, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Inverness, Scotland
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:

Inverness, Scotland (airport code INV)
Departure:
Inverness, Scotland
Date: Day 10

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Inverness, Scotland (airport code INV)
Suggested flight departure time: 3:00 pm or later

Coul House Hotel

Coul House Hotel

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Contin, Scotland

This warmly welcoming hotel is set in beautiful old gardens and brings with it the atmosphere of a traditional Scottish country house. The owner and ...
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Harris Hotel

Harris Hotel

Days 3 to 5 (3 nights), Isle of Harris, Scotland

This family-run hotel is centrally located on the Isle of Harris just two minutes from the ferry terminal. The hotel has a lovely dining room and ...
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Bosville Hotel

Bosville Hotel

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Portree, Scotland

The Bosville is a simple family-run hotel that offers a wonderfully warm welcome. Its location is superb, just a couple of minutes walk from both ...
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Glencoe House

Glencoe House

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Glencoe, Scotland

The unique Glencoe House, set amid some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, accommodates guests in large and beautifully furnished suites. ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Skye McDonald

Skye McDonald was born and raised in Scotland in a small village called Scone, the ancient crowning place of the kings and queens of Scotland, and is now based in the Highland capital of Inverness. She has worked as a Trip Leader in 27 countries since the millennium. As a walking guide she has explored many areas, including the Pindos in Northern Greece, the wadis of Jordan, the volcanoes of Cape Verde, the sentiers of the Dordogne and Pyrenees, the Sahara desert in Mauritania and Mali, the mountains of Cyprus and Lebanon, and most recently the levadas of  Madeira and the slate villages and cultural sites of Portugal. “Bringing understanding between peoples of very different cultures and backgrounds is one of the joys of being a Trip Leader, and of course, the chance to make friends around the world.” Closer to home, she delights in sharing the glories of  her native Scotland, and says that a good day scaling some of the beautiful Scottish mountains is hard to beat. Skye also loves revealing the glories and stories of the Principality of Wales and walking the famous Coast to Coast trail across northern England. “I adore all the trips I lead for WT. When asked which is my favourite, my response is, all of them!” Skye speaks German, French, and unusually, a smattering of Swahili from earlier years as a volunteer agricultural officer in Tanzania.

Upcoming Trips:

Highlands and Islands of Scotland, September 7-16, 2015
Hiker's Journey to Portugal, April 25-May 6, 2016
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, May 9-18, 2016
Hiking the Faroe Islands, June 3-10, 2016
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, June 13-22, 2016
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, July 11-20, 2016
Highlands and Islands of Scotland, September 5-14, 2016
England Coast to Coast, September 18-October 1, 2016
Hiker's Journey to Portugal, October 3-14, 2016

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Client Testimonials:


I cannot praise Skye enough. She combined efficiency with attention to individual needs. She’s also very knowledgeable about West Africa. Caroline M., Princeton NJ
Timbuktu & Dogon Country
Skye was one of the best leaders of any trip I have taken, period. Betty G., Boca Grande FL
Timbuktu & Dogon Country
Skye was a first-rate leader in every respect. She made the trip a great experience. Helen D., Petaluma CA
Timbuktu & Dogon Country
Skye was fantastic in every way. Her joy in relating to the local people was a pleasure to watch. Susan R., Old Greenwich CT
Timbuktu & Dogon Country
Skye was off the charts tops. She has a captivating storytelling ability and a sharp wit. We always felt in good hands with her. Kate F., Santa Monica, CA
England Coast to Coast
Skye is a fabulous people person and had the gift of bringing the group together. Linda H., Laguna Hills, CA
Tour du Mont Blanc
Skye MacDonald was a superb guide. Her cultural, historical, and botanical knowledge is superb! Lynne M., Portola Valley, CA
England Coast to Coast
Skye's competence is amazing, and her wit delightful! She did a terrific job leading all aspects of this trip. Kitty L., Chicago, IL
Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Can't say enough positive things about Skye. She did a brilliant job of accommodating weather, skill level, and geography. She made all of us feel special. Martin S., Saint Louis, MO
Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Skye is very smart, very experienced, and creative and pleasantly assertive enough to engage everyone regardless of their background and ability. Her many years of experience are very evident in every aspect of her leadership. Lew G., Mercer Island, WA
Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Skye was a terrific guide with wonderful personal knowledge of her native Scotland. Give her an A+! Carol L., Kalispell, MT
Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Skye's competence is amazing, and her wit delightful! She did a terrific job leading all aspects of this trip. Kitty L., Chicago, IL
Highlands and Islands of Scotland
We enjoyed Skye's sense of humor and her Scottish accent, as well as her professionalism and willingness to add a few lagniappes to the trip (massage appointments!). Lauren P., Santa Fe, NM
England Coast to Coast
Skye is equally good as a guide in a difficult stretch of high mountain terrain or an urban exploration. Organized, informed, and excellent company, she is an exceptional project manager and group leader. She made the trip work for us all, while Madeira made the trip a visual treat. Andrew S., Washington, DC
The Isle of Madeira

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

Scotland

Cairngorms National Park and Edinburgh Extension

Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking, Walking
4 days  -  Level 2 & 3

Client Comments

This was my 5th Wilderness Travel trip and it rates #1! VERY engaging itinerary and the best group leader team I've experienced. I hope that future Wilderness Travel clients can have as satisfying an experience and as much fun as I did. Lew G., Mercer Island, WA A beautiful country, wonderful hikes, and great trip leaders. Kim S., Half Moon Bay, CA This is my 8th trip with Wilderness Travel and is the best trip yet. Jim G., Mercer Island, WA
A wonderful trip that I would do again. Bob S., Half Moon Bay, CA Scotland was a destination we had been hoping Wilderness would bring back and you did, but with an even better itinerary! Just spectacular scenery and a wonderful guide. Carol L., Kalispell, MT